If ever proof were needed of just how meaningless the BDS movement is, Leicester City Council’s controversial decision to boycott goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank has had “no impact” on the things it has bought, officials have revealed.
Yet the council has already had to pay out £7,355 plus VAT on legal counsel connected to the boycott – and could face paying £200,000 costs if it loses a judicial review case on the ban at the High Court next month.
The Labour-led authority approved the motion in 2014 to “show solidarity” with the Palestinian people.
However, critics described the move as anti-Semitic – a charge denied by the council – and gesture politics to appeal to Muslim voters ahead of last year’s election.
Tory city councillor Ross Grant said: “It’s disgraceful. This just shows the Labour group are guilty of dog whistle politics of the worst kind. This motion has had no effect at all and was just to win votes from a certain section of the community.
“Now £200,000 of taxpayers’ money has been put at risk because of the actions of a bunch of people who are always telling us how little cash they have.
“The city mayor ought to show some leadership and rescind this motion to protect public money.
“At the last council meeting I asked the lord mayor to allow a motion to vote on rescinding this. We could have already had a vote but he would not allow it.”
The issue is set to be settled in the High Court after an application by campaign group Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) for a judicial review of the boycott.
Council barrister Kamal Adatia has warned councillors losing the case could cost the authority £200,000.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed the legal costs associated with the motion. The response said the council had paid £7,355 plus VAT on counsel but that the cost of in-house legal work had not been calculated.
The request also asked if the policy had led to a change in any supplier of goods to the council.
The response said: “The council’s procurement activity has not been impacted by the motion.”
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